The Mission Economy

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Missions played an important role in the Spanish exploration and settlement of new territory. For missions to survive they needed to create and maintain a vibrant economy.

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Mission Economy

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The missions became a hub of economic activity becoming very prosperous. The wealth of the missions grew dramatically. In several of them massive stone churches had been built, of an architecture the grandest in America. In all of the missions were buildings providing for hundreds of occupants, for all the necessary trades and manufactures, and many of the ornamental arts of civilized life. There were shops for blacksmithing, tanning, candle making, basket weaving, leather working and furniture making.

Large areas of land were growing grains and cool fruits, as well as palm, olive, grape, fig, orange, and pomegranate. They had large herds of cattle and vast flocks of sheep and herds of horses. In these nineteen missions were over twenty thousand Indians, leading industrious lives, and conforming to the Catholic religion.

Basket Weaving
Basket Weaving
(Source: Library of Congress)
Native Indians learned many new skills. This picture shows an Indian women basket weaving.
Mission Life Farming
(Source: Library of Congress)
The missions with the help of the natives developed large fields for farming. Near the end of the missions they harvested over 123,000 bushels of grain.
Mission Sheep
Raising Farm Animals
(Source: Library of Congress)

The missions also become home to many head of cattle and large flocks of sheep. Near the end of the missions, they herded over 400,000 cattle, 60,000 horses, 320,000 hogs, sheep and goats. This picture shows sheep at the San Antonio Mission.


Books about the Missions of California

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  Books on the California Missions


Links to other sites on the Missions of California

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For a daily history lesson see AccentHistory.net http://www.accenthistory.net
California Missions Resource Center http://www.missionscalifornia.com/
California Missions Virtual Tour http://www.californiamissions.com/
California State Parks http://www.parks.ca.gov/

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